Our Friend of the Week – David Pescovitz
David Pescovitz is the Internet’s original gangsta and one of the coolest cats in town. He’s a writer, journalist, music aficionado, and the husband of a dear friend (and former Friend of the Week, Kelly Sparks). He’s also in the process of bringing to life one the most fascinating Kickstarter campaigns to date: Voyager Golden Record, which raised over $1.3M.
Your City: Mill Valley, California
David’s What: The Family Acid is an Instagram stream of photographer/author/explorer Roger Steffens’s vintage snapshots of his dynamic, inspiring, and psychedelic life in the counterculture since the early 1960s. Roger’s daughter Kate, a digital archivist, is the curator of her dad’s hundreds of thousands of slides and negatives.
FRIEND OF THE WEEK: 11 QUESTIONS
WEBSITE: BOINGBOING | IFTF | OZMA RECORDS
1. Nickname: Pesco
2. What’s your short story? Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1980s, I was a computer nerd deep into underground culture and ‘zines. After college, the SF Bay Area’s early 1990s cyber-culture called to me. During journalism grad school at UC Berkeley, I immersed myself in digital culture, avant-garde art, and high weirdness, and began writing about science and technology for Wired, The New York Times, and various other publications. For almost 25 years, I’ve been part of Boing Boing, the tech/culture Web site that’s one of the last independent commercial blogs still standing. I’m also a researcher at Institute for the Future, a 50-year-old nonprofit think tank that helps organizations and the public think about long term future trends to make better decisions in the present. And this year, my friend and I launched Ozma Records, a music label focused on the intersection of art, history, and wonder to spark the imagination. The label’s first release is the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a lavish vinyl box set documenting the iconic phonograph record that NASA launched into space in 1977 as an interstellar message for extraterrestrials.
3. What’s your jam? Quindar is a multimedia/musical experience from my friends Mikael Jorgensen, the keyboardist from Wilco, and James Merle Thomas, an art historian/curator, in which they create spectacular remixes of the NASA audio and film archive.
4. What motivates you? The first law of futurism is that there are no facts about the future, only fiction. It’s up to us to write the story of tomorrow, and that’s empowering.
5. What qualities do your favorite friends have in common? Curiosity, humor, humility.
6. What’s the smartest, most inspiring, awesome thing you’ve read, watched, or listened to? The Voyager Golden Record, the originals of which are now 13 billion miles away from us, contains the story of Earth expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad cultures and eras, from Bach, Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry, to Senegalese percussion and Solomon Island panpipes. Dozens of natural sounds of our planet — birds, a train, a kiss — are collaged into a lovely sound poem. There are spoken greetings in 55 human languages (and one whale language) and more than one hundred images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are. The Voyager Golden Record was a testament to the power of science and art to ignite humanity’s sense of curiosity, delight, and wonder. Forty years later the entire project still sparks the imagination like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
7. What whets your appetite? I’m an avid vinyl record collector. I think that as we spend more time online, in mediated experiences, our desire increases for visceral, tangible experiences. I can spend hours flipping through the used record bins and, fortunately, my 10-year-old son loves it too. He’s the king of the $1 bin. The entire ritual of picking out a record to play, putting it on my turntable, and looking at the cover art makes me happy.
8. How are you friends with Gina + Amy? My fabulous wife Kelly Sparks, a fashion designer, worked with Gina and they became instant friends. I’ve also known Gina’s husband Dave Pell online for many years. He’s the managing editor of the Internet.
9. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Timothy Leary is one of my patron saints and the first time I met him, when I was 19 years old, I asked him if he had any advice for me. Without missing a beat, he said: “Think for yourself and question authority.”